In a flurry of pure energy, alternative hip-hop artist Aminé shined bright at the Masonic, a ray of sunshine among his set pieces modeled after the traditionally rainy Portland. The Feb. 4 performance marks the second show in the self-dubbed Best Tour Ever. With his quick pace and confidence in commanding a crowd, Aminé reserved pauses between the bouncy beats to push his main points — self-love and uninhibited fun.
Before the show had begun, the main act was preceded by three opening acts: rappers AJ Tracey, Cochise and 454. Large tarp-covered objects crowding the stage loomed over their performances — shaking confidence in the tour’s ability to live up to its boastful claim. Yet once the tarps were torn down, any lost assuredness was restored in flying colors.
A microcosm of his hometown — or, as he affectionately calls it, the “5-O-tree” — emerged from behind the tarps, instantly saturating the venue with a fuzzy sentimentality. In the foreground of a large 2D white mountain and an even larger 3D bridge stood a corner store, “Alberta Market,” decked out in graffiti, flyers and lotto numbers.
After exploding through the market doors into the infectious “Mad Funny Freestyle,” Aminé led the audience on a tour of his mini Portland, explaining various personal landmarks on the stage. Even with specific stories from the market or an entrance sign to the neighborhood park, it was easy to project any hometown into the staples of Americana. Less easy to relate to was the 10-foot-tall dog statue with glowing red eyes on the opposite end of the stage, Oliver.
Nevertheless, it fit right into the overall energy encompassing his (Aminé’s, not Oliver’s) show. The Best Tour Ever follows his 2020 exploratory mixtape “TWOPOINTFIVE,” mingling the familiarity of his earlier era with the experimental feel of his latest one — down to the park sign and the pooch.
“You’re beautiful!” became the mantra of the night as Aminé taught the crowd to respond with an unblushing “I know!” each time. With toothy smiles and a playful hubris, he was an instant best friend, the coolest cousin. Shouting his lyrics alongside him captured the bliss of singing in the car with friends as he joked and hummed the piano of “Heebiejeebies.” Buoyant rapport bubbled over, even if the literal spotlight remained on him.
Big-eyed and brightly clad, Aminé bounded across the stage with the zeal of a cartoon character, peacocking without even a whisper of innuendo. He was impossibly animated in expression and body language as he bopped to “Colors,” a hyper, fizzy, cherry-flavored soda of a song accented by flashing lights in a color palette reminiscent of a bag of Skittles.
Polarity captured the emotional journey of the concert. “Colors,” a newer song grappling with inner turmoil and the stress found in his career, was immediately followed by the braggadocious “Yellow” from his debut. The push and pull within his discography showed off his journey as an artist. Exploring that dichotomy created a distinct nostalgia, gazing back on the past with a foot pressed firmly in the present.
As the night neared an end, phone lights went up to illuminate a slowed-down rendition of “Caroline,” his debut single released back in 2017. Over simple chords of an electric keyboard, Aminé and his crowd sent the serenade out into the venue, relishing the intimate connection before erupting into the song’s total joy fleshed out by backbeat and all.
After an encore packing a punch of the same, if not more, energy, Amine closed out the night with deep and candid gratitude. Though the show was over, the West Coast rapper kindled enough spark in one night to carry all the attendees through the rainiest days.
Contact Afton Okwu at [email protected].